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Volume 24 No. 160

Law Politics

     Former L.A. Kings majority owner Bruce McNall pleaded guilty
to four criminal counts stemming from a federal bank fraud
investigation.  Charges included "creating phony financial
statements for lenders as early as 1984, supplying fake coin
inventories to secure loans, diverting millions from a Merrill
Lynch coin fund and King ticket proceeds and even listing dead
horses as collateral.  Allegations also include improperly
pledging a horse he owned with [Wayne] Gretzky to a bank without
telling the Kings superstar."  Although McNall faces a maximum of
45 years, sources say his sentence will most likely be three to
nine years.  As expected, McNall officially gave up his title as
Kings president, but will serve as a consultant to the team.  His
$650,000 salary will be trimmed to $487,500.  McNall "technically
remains a minority owner in the club, although his 28% stake is
now under the control of the trustee in his U.S. Bankruptcy Court
case and is expected to be eventually sold" (Bates & Dillman,
L.A. TIMES, 12/15).  In L.A., Helene Elliott writes, "We probably
should have seen this coming.  We didn't want to look. And the
NHL, before the Gary Bettman regime, was too busy to look because
it was counting the money King merchandising brought in" (L.A.
TIMES, 12/15).

     Darryl Strawberry and his agent, Eric Goldschmidt, pleaded
not guilty to charges of conspiracy and federal tax evasion
yesterday.  Strawberry arrived at the courthouse "via limousine
with a bodyguard and left in the same manner."  His case is
schedule to be heard May 5 (Jennifer Frey, N.Y. TIMES, 12/15).
NBC's Pete Williams reported that NBC has learned that "nine
other current and former major league players are also under
investigation."  Williams also cited sources close to the
investigation who say that "federal agents gathered evidence at a
baseball show about two years ago, by secretly tape recording
players who asked to be payed in cash with no records to the IRS"
("Nightly News," NBC, 12/14).  Strawberry told reporters that the
"real criminal here" is Meade Chasky, Strawberry's former card
show agent who was granted immunity in exchange for testimony
(Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/15).